Graduation Guide: Where to eat in Raleigh

Graduation Guide: Where to eat in Raleigh

Need help during graduation weekend? College Town has you covered. Here's where to take your parents to eat in Raleigh. Congrats, N.C. State grads!

Above, photo of H-Street Kitchen by Jill Knight for the News & Observer.

Graduation is just around the corner, and for most seniors, that means your parents will be in town. Now, this is one of your rare chances to eat off campus on someone else’s dime, so you need to make every meal count. If you’re like me, and you can only afford Cookout, you might not actually know the best places to eat near campus, so here’s the rundown of the top restaurants in the area, categorized by mealtime.

Graduating elsewhere? Here’s where to eat in Durham and Chapel Hill.


State Farmer’s Market Restaurant 

The State Farmer’s Market Restaurant serves lunch and dinner as well, but breakfast is where they shine brightest. If you’re looking for a hearty meal that will keep you going through a long morning of showing friends and family around campus, or just craving some highly rated sausage links and fresh scrambled eggs, this is the place for you.

The Morning Times 

The Morning Times has a wide variety of food options for breakfast, but their sandwiches are what set them apart, in my opinion. The breakfast sandwich is  a simple but masterfully executed meat, egg, and cheese combination that you won’t be able to take your mind off for the rest of the day, even as you walk across the graduation stage. Their lattes are their most popular drink, but all of the coffee at The Morning Times is great quality.

Rise Biscuits and Donuts

Cheerwine donuts at Rise. Photo by Amanda Ward for the News & Observer.

Rise Biscuits Donuts

If you’re looking for something a little sweeter to start your day, Rise has you covered with their selection of donuts ranging from the classic chocolate icing to the more adventurous pineapple basil with pistachios. If you want something more savory, their biscuit sandwiches are second to none.


If your first priority in the morning is quality coffee, look no further than Jubala. The in-house bakery makes sure that that top tier coffee isn’t ruined by a sub-par sweet biscuit, and the location right across the street from the Bell Tower is an added bonus. Top that off with a pleasant staff, and you may have the #1 breakfast spot near campus.


Beasley’s Chicken and Honey 

If you are looking to give your visitors a taste of how we do things in the South, Beasley’s is a good place to start. The chicken, their namesake, is naturally of the highest quality, but their mac and cheese is extremely popular as well. They also serve brunch, so if your mind is still on breakfast food after your experience with one of the above recommendations, you can still get your fix.

Beasley's Chicken

The fried chicken biscuit at Beasley’s. Photo by Juli Leonard for the News & Observer.


Located across Hillsborough street from the library, Jasmin is great for a low-effort lunch. You can’t go wrong with their signature creation, the chicken zaki, but Jasmin is a safe place to try something new. You can be sure that whatever you order, your food will be a beautiful little taste of the tremendous blessing that we call Mediterranean cuisine.  

Wicked Taco 

Everyone in the world likes a good taco, and Wicked Taco has good tacos. Their taco variations, such as the Psycho Billy Cadillac complete with pineapple, are as well executed as they are irreverent. They also have more basic “naked tacos” for those who aren’t feeling particularly wicked.



Another Hillsborough Street staple, Pieology is the beautiful lovechild of Subway and your favorite pizzeria. The pizzas are 100 percent customizable, from the sauce and crust to the unlimited toppings, so you have freedom to express yourself through perfectly baked edible art. If you still have decision fatigue from your lunch at Wicked Taco, they also have pre-made creations ranging from basic Easy Cheesy to genius Smokin’ Buffalo Chicken.

Backyard Bistro 

If you get disappointed when you’re actually able to fit your mouth around your burger, Backyard Bistro is the place for you. If you need to catch an NBA playoff game, you can do so on one of their several projector screens on the wall while you snack on some of their addictive pulled pork tots. If you’re concerned that food like pig wings or loaded Italian sausage could be bad for your summer bod, they have you covered with their impressive selection of soups and salads.

Pimiento cheese croquettes at H-Street Kitchen.

Pimiento cheese croquettes at H-Street Kitchen. Photo by Juli Leonard for the News & Observer.

H-Street Kitchen 

One of the newest additions to the Hillsborough Street lineup, H-Street Kitchen has the hip and modern atmosphere that almost makes you forget the disturbing number of meals you have eaten in Fountain Dining Hall in the last four years. Their menu is fairly standard for American style dining, and they seem to hit the mark on every dish.

Honorable Mention

Insomnia Cookies

It may not be a meal, but no sane person should visit N.C. State and leave without experiencing the masterpieces that come out of the Insomnia oven every day. It’s open till 3 a.m., so it’s a perfect way to cap off a night of celebrating.

Finding places to eat, especially when you’re the person that’s supposed to be familiar with the area, can be a daunting task, so hopefully this made it just a little less stressful. Good luck and happy eating!

Tobin Bates

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